Gov. Healey pushes to update state sex education guidelines

Gov. Maura Healey moved Wednesday to update the state's sex education guidelines for the first time in 24 years.

The updates are "inclusive, medically accurate and age appropriate," Healey said at a State House press conference about the proposal.

She said the guidelines cover LGBTQ+ health and wellness, mental and emotional health, personal safety, bodily autonomy, dating safety, violence prevention, physical health and hygiene, nutritionally balanced eating, physical activity, substance use disorder, and public, community and environmental health.

The Board of Elementary and Secondary Education plans to vote at their meeting next Tuesday on whether to open the health curriculum framework draft for public comment, after which educators, parents, advocates and other members of the public will have 60 days to share their thoughts on the new regulations. After the public comment period is closed, the board could revise the draft and vote on implementing the new framework, likely later this summer or in the fall.

Healey's description of the framework covers much of the same ground and language as legislation that has won favor in the Massachusetts Senate, but not the House. In the past decade, the Senate has passed the "Healthy Youth Act" four times to remodel sex education, to teach students about human anatomy, sexually transmitted diseases, HIV and AIDS, unwanted pregnancy, effective use of contraceptives, dating violence and gender and sexual identity.

The bill died several sessions in a row in the House. However, longtime House sponsor Rep. Jim O'Day said last month that he felt with a governor more friendly to the idea in the corner office, that it might get off the ground this session.

Through Healey's proposal and the board vote, the new framework would not need to pass through the Legislature.



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